Esquerra Republicana introduces a bill in Spanish Congress to decriminalize and recognize cannabis as medication

“Cannabis regulation should have come long ago. This initiative stems from Spanish government inaction till now” says congresswoman Marta Rosique

On Tuesday, September 28, the Esquerra Congressional Group introduced a bill for the comprehensive regulation of cannabis. The aim of the bill, which was presented at a press conference by the group’s spokesman in Congress, Gabriel Rufián, and the congresswoman responsible for the initiative, Marta Rosique, is to reduce consumption, ensure safe access, eliminate traffickers, and regulate therapeutic use.

Ms Rosique considers that “cannabis regulation should have come long ago” and noted that Esquerra’s initiative stems from the “Spanish government’s inaction on this matter till now.” It should be remembered that the Parliament of Catalonia passed in 2017 a popular legislative initiative presented by different cannabis groups with the same goal, but “which was overturned, like so many other Catalan laws, by the Constitutional Court.” From that law five years ago comes the initiative that Esquerra Republicana has introduced in Congress.

As Ms Rosique recalls, according to Spain’s Sociological Research Center "90.1% of society is in favour of regulating cannabis for therapeutic use, and 49.7% support its regulation for recreational use." Less than a year ago the UN itself withdrew cannabis from the 1961 Drug Convention and recognized its medicinal benefits.

The main points of Esquerra’s bill include:

  • Decriminalization of cannabis, as several European countries have already done.
  • Regulation as a prescription drug.
  • Adults access for recreational use, focusing on the prevention and treatment of addiction. This includes regulation for home growing or in non-profit cannabis associations.
  • Control of the cannabis cycle—growing, transport, possession, consumption, marketing and dispensation—to put an end to the criminal gangs that have benefitted from the lack of regulation so far. It should be noted that according to the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Addictions, 35.2% of people aged between 15 and 64 have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime and 2.1% do so daily. According to these figures, over 600,000 people in Spain consume cannabis and derived substances daily, making it the country in Europe with second most consumption, behind France. In addition, the Spanish Medicinal Cannabis Observatory estimates that about 120,000 people use cannabis for therapeutic/medical purposes. Given the lack of regulation, this consumption “stimulates its production and illegal trafficking in such quantities in the underground economy that we cannot afford,” concludes Ms Rosique.
  • Ensure respect for the law of the Parliament of Catalonia and municipal ordinances such as Barcelona’s that have likewise been overturned, so that they can be applied immediately.

Esquerra’s bill has been drafted with the cooperation of entities that had already participated actively in the discussions leading to the Catalan law.